More Questions than Answers?
Final Whistle #37
While there’s still a round of fixtures left, we can still take a look at how the champions fared in this year’s tournament.
Can Barrett Handle the Heat?
Basically, Hansen has to rejig his backline if he doesn’t feel Barrett can handle the heat. The problem with this rejig is that it would likely see the ever-dependable Ben Smith shift to the wing or drop out the squad with either Barrett senior moving to 15 or one of Damien McKenzie or Jordie Barrett coming in for Smith. If Smith retains a place in the starting XV, this would come at the cost of giant winger, Waisake Naholo.
I know Naholo gets a lot of stick for his limited rugby brain but he’s a key cog in this All Black machine – he’s the power runner who can make metres at will, while also sucking in a number of defenders. His exit from the starting XV would unbalance what is a well-oiled backline.
Smith moving out of the line-up would also hinder the All Blacks ability on the kick return, as the veteran is simply unmatched on the counter. He’s also the most competent player in New Zealand under the high ball.
More light may be shed on the goal-kicking situation this coming weekend with Richie Mounga likely to be handed a start at ten ahead of Beauden Barrett. If the Crusaders pivot puts in a shoddy display like the shift he put in against Argentina earlier in the tournament, then the moving Beuaden Barrett to XV and playing with duel pivots may well be crossed off Hansen’s left-field ideas book.
There’s also a lot of questions about the make-up of the All Black back row but that’analyses should be saved for another day.
Here’s your lot for the weekend.
Hawke’s Bay Win v Manawatu 8/13
Aphiwe Dyanti Any Time Try Scorers – SA v New Zealand
Canterbury -22 v Taranaki
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